Wanda Pagel-Herman, age 80, passed on July 25, 2023, at Friendship Village,
Kalamazoo, MI from natural causes.
Wanda was born on May 6, 1943, in Prague, Czechoslovakia. From an early age Wanda was extremely active and energetic. She participated in a number of sports - swimming, tennis, skiing, ice skating and especially archery, in which she won several international events. After finishing Gymnasium in 1963, she shifted her focus from sports to film. In 1964 she was accepted to FAMU (Film and TV School of Academy of Performing Arts in Prague). During her studies at FAMU she worked at the Barrandov film studios in Prague, the largest film studio in Czechoslovakia.
Wanda was awarded a scholarship to Ohio University to obtain her PhD and she left in January 1969 to study in the USA. It was there that she met one of her best friends, Rose Blake, whom Wanda called her second sister. During the first year she was there, the situation in Czechoslovakia rapidly worsened. In December 1969, the border with the west was closed and every citizen abroad was ordered back home. Wanda decided to finish her studies even if it meant facing prosecution back home.
Upon completing her doctorate, Wanda joined the Western Michigan University Audio-Visual department. It was there that she met Tom Pagel, a Communication professor, who become her husband in 1974.
It wasn't until a few years later after she obtained US citizenship that Wanda was able to get a Czechoslovak visa and travel back home as a US citizen. She returned to Czechoslovakia in May,1978 and, for the first time in nine years, she was able to see her mother and sister.
Wanda taught at Western Michigan University for a time and then later started her own company, focusing on dubbing and translations in a variety of languages including Russian, German, and Spanish. She also translated for companies doing business in the Czech Republic.
Apart from work, Wanda and her husband engaged in a variety of pursuits. They supported the Gilmore Piano Festival over many years, and she often transported visiting artists to and from the airport. They enjoyed many activities together including travelling, cooking (they competed to prepare the "best" meal), theater, music, art, and hosting and socializing with their many friends. Wanda was also very fond of animals, especially cats, and they adopted many strays over the years.
Unfortunately, it wasn't long after Tom's death in 2019 that health issues prevented Wanda from doing the things she loved. Wanda was an extremely talented and courageous woman. She will be missed and fondly remembered by all those who loved her.
She is preceded in death by her husband, Thomas Pagel, her father, Josef Herman, and her mother, Emilie Hermanova-Plzenska. She is survived by her sister, Alena Urbachova.
Donations in memory of Wanda can be made in her name to: The Irving S. Gilmore Foundation or the SPCA of Southwest Michigan.